A Wart is one of the most common types of skin problem which is caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). It is a small growth or increased bumps on the skin. Warts appear anywhere on the body. Generally, they are not dangerous but highly contagious. Warts are embarrassing, ugly and affect individual’s beauty. They mainly occurred on moist or soft skin and sometimes can be painful. Warts are mostly appearing in people who have a weaker immune system.
Types of Warts
There are five major types of warts. Each type appears on a different part of the body and has a specific appearance.
• Common Warts
Common warts are usually grown on fingers and toes but they can also appear on other body parts. These warts have a rough, grainy appearance and a rounded top. Common warts are normally grayer than the surrounding skin.
• Planter Warts
Plantar warts grow on the soles of the feet. They generally grow into the skin and not out of it. Planter warts are easily noticeable. They appear as a small hole in the bottom of foot which is surrounded by hardened skin. Plantar warts make walking uncomfortable and painful.
• Flat Warts
Flat warts usually grow on the face, thighs or arms. They are small and not easily noticeable. Flat warts have a flat top and can be pink, brownish or slightly yellow in color.
• Filiform Warts
Filiform warts grow around the mouth or nose and sometimes on a neck or under the chin. They are small and have a same color as the skin.
• Periungual Warts
Periungual warts grow under and around the toenails or fingernails. They can be painful and affect nail growth.
Need of Dermatologist’s Consultation
Usually, warts are not harmful and do not cause any serious problems but there are some types of warts which are painful. Warts mainly damages person’s looks. A Dermatologist’s consultation is necessary in case of problems such as:
• Painful warts
• Warts bleeding
• Damaging appearance or looks
• Warts spreading easily as well as rapidly to other body parts
• Recurring warts even after removal treatment
• Warts appearing in an area causing constant bumping and bleeding thus affecting daily activities like shaving, sports and others.
Causes of Warts
• Warts are caused by Human PapillomaVirus (HPV) viruses. HPV viruses stimulate excessive and rapid growth of hard protein called as Keratin on the top layer of the skin. Different HPV viruses cause different warts.
• Warts are extremely infectious and can easily spread by close skin-to-skin contact as well as use of infected person’s towels or shoes.
• The HPV viruses can spread to other body parts through scratching or biting a wart, sucking fingers, biting fingernails if there are warts around the nails and shaving the face.
• Using public swimming pools, public showers and washrooms increase the risk of getting warts.
• People with weaker immune systems easily get infected by HPV viruses.
Genital warts are more harmful and contagious than normal warts. Some strains of HPV viruses can cause warts in, on or around the genitals. These warts are more serious especially in women which can potentially responsible for cervical, anal and vulvo-vaginal cancer. In men, anal cancer and penis cancer can also occur due to the infection of some types of genital warts.
Treatment of Warts
The treatment is mainly based on the types of warts. The majority of treatments last from a few weeks to several years depending on the location and number of warts. The main aim of treatment is to remove warts and avoid recurrence of warts. Common treatment methods are:
• Salicylic Acid
Most of the skin creams, ointments, gels and medical band aids contain salicylic acid. Applying petroleum jelly or a corn plaster to the skin around the wart can protect it from damage. It is important to protect the skin around the wart before applying any cream because salicylic acid can also destroy healthy skin hence avoid applying gels, creams and other products containing salicylic acid on the face.
Cryotherapy treatment is performed by the expert dermatologist only. In this treatment, freezing liquid is sprayed on the warts to destroy the cells. Nitrogen is often used as a freezing liquid. A blister develops which finally scabs and falls off after a week or later. If wart is large then several sessions and local anesthetic is needed.
Surgery is not suitable for all types of warts. Dermatologist performs surgery if other treatment methods are failed to remove warts. Most warts can be shaved off with a surgical razor under local anesthesia.
• CO2 Laser
CO2 Laser treatment is the most advanced and effective procedure to remove warts. In CO2 Laser treatment, a precise laser beam is used to destroy warts. A laser light heats up the blood in tiny vessels inside the wart and affects the vessels. Without supply of blood, wart finally dies and falls off. The CO2 laser heat also attack HPV viruses causing warts. CO2 laser is a highly successful and risk free procedure hence it is widely used to treat warts problem. A CO2 laser has various benefits over traditional surgical treatments like less pain, better precision, no surrounding skin damage, faster recovery, no side effects, higher success rates and quick procedure.
• Other Treatments
If warts do not respond to standard treatments then a dermatologist can offer other treatment options. Immunotherapy is used to make patient’s immune system stronger to destroy warts. Retinoids disrupt the wart’s skin cell growth. Doctors also prescribe effective antibiotics to fight against HPV viruses.
Prevention of Warts
Prevention is always better than cure. Warts are easily preventable and curable. Some necessary precautionary tips to avoid warts are:
• Maintaining proper personal hygiene
• Eating healthy diet to build strong immune system
• Avoiding skin to skin contact with infected person
• Washing hands properly after contact with infected person
• Keeping hands and feet dry
• Wearing shoes or footwear in case of using public washrooms
• Strictly avoid touching and picking the warts
Common warts especially around the fingernails and toenails are difficult to eliminate completely. If warts are removed and viruses stayed in the body then there are more chances of recurrence of warts. It is always advisable to maintain a proper personal hygiene and build a strong immunity power to avoid any infections. Most of the warts are harmless but only damages person’s beauty. Anyone suffering from warts should not lose confidence instead consult a Dermatologist to get rid of warts.